Thursday 23 November 2017

Opel put X-factor in revised Mokka as appetite for small 'crossovers' shows no sign of slowing

Opel Mokka
Opel Mokka

Eddie Cunningham in Edinburgh

IT could be said that Opel are just adding an X to their Mokka to keep in step with demand from people who want their cars to look like SUVs.

This small/compact Crossover, however, has more that's new than is often the case with facelifts. The interior is heavily changed - well the dash instrumentation and displays are. Not much to say about them really except that any buttons we pressed on the display, sat nav etc gave us the desired result without fumbling through layers of sub-zones.

They are calling it the most connected car in its sector. Different bits of the IntelliLink infotainment system come in at different trim levels. It includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration. And you can have their Onstar service. Basically at the push of a button this 'Guardian Angel' 24/7 system links you to an adviser/helper who can, among other things, call the emergency services.

The other benefit is that it makes the car a 'hotspot' so you can have wifi on the move. It was a bit patchy with us but then we were in some remote areas up in the Scottish Highlands.

I drove a 1.6-litre diesel (136bhp) manual with All Wheel Drive (a quarter of its sales in Europe). With winter coming (it gets here in October) I suppose it is worth looking at for traction and grip on wetter and icier roads. One section of our drive, in a loop over the Firth of Forth bridge, up to the huge Balmeny House estate, on to Rob Roy's grave and back to Edinburgh, involved a straightforward bit of back/poor-road driving.

We didn't notice much from the AWD but that's its secret: it dips in and out to help just as you need it. In the Mokka it can swing torque from 100pc front wheel drive to 50:50 front/rear.

Opel Mokka
Opel Mokka

We did notice a fair bit of road/tyre noise in our drive. It may have been the poorish roads but it was quite prominent. By the way, there is a decent sized boot and reasonable space in the refreshed cabin.

They gave the outside a bit of a lift too.

Anyway, all the cars now carry the 'Mokka X' logo - even those without 4x4. It's an example of making the point it is a crossover/SUV.

People just want these cars. Some 600,000 Mokkas sold from 2012 and the segment then tripled to 1,239,000 last year.

So why not highlight its credentials with an X.

Talk of 'segment' can be confusing. Basically the Mokka is a small crossover like the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur etc. Then there is a compact crossover/SUV such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Toyota RAV4 etc. I get confused myself sometimes.

Prices start at €21,495 (up from €20,995) for the 1.6-litre petrol (115hp, 5spd). There is an AWD 1.4-litre turbo petrol 6spd (140bhp) from €25,795. The front-wheel-drive version of this costs €24,295.

Diesels kick off at €26,295 (6spd 1.6-litre,136bhp); AWD models begin at €27,795. So AWD is basically costing €1,500 more. Not bad.

Entry level spec (S) includes cruise control, air con, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, R300 audio, AM/FM/digital radio, USB, six speakers, electric front windows, 16in steel wheels.

The SC trim is more reflective of what people buy. It has the OnStar and IntelliLink R4.0 systems (wifi hotspot), 7in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front/rear parking distance sensors, dual-zone electronic climate control, front fogs, 17in alloys.

Overall they have given the car a bit more X-factor - you can never have enough of that in the crossover world.

Irish Independent

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